EST. May 2000 (AD)


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Free and Easy Travel

By Pamela Miller

Business travel is not travel. You're huddled from a car to a conference room to another car. The only sights are the room service menu and the list of pay-per-view options. There is nowhere to walk, nothing to see, and the airport hotel is miles from the bustling downtown or popular vacation destination. Business types travel thousands of miles per year, only to discover the sole experiential difference is the continental breakfast muffin.

Too much of a good thing may dull the senses. Travel is a lesser, or even a non-adventure, when it's work related. With additional inconveniences, such as paying to check your luggage, the travel bug may be reduced to a minor virus. You may even morph into (shudder) a homebody.

The sole selling point for business travel: per diem. Someone else is paying. That should be enough to send a spark down your spinal cord.

First, change your attitude. Repeat the following affirmations:

To reboot the travel zone in your brain, you have two options. You could attend a weekend seminar on mindfulness, the kind that charges $4000 to help you focus on the simple pleasure of a single grape, followed by three hours of weeding the back garden in order to get better acquainted with Mother Earth. Or, with a small investment, you could reinvent yourself as an enlightenment coach.

The second option is the one that pays you $4000 to travel and share about the virtues of produce.

Your initial assignment is to investigate the different mindfulness seminars in your neck of the woods. Do not enroll. Just read the leader biographies. Look for the letters after their names. Do they have a degree from an accredited institution of higher learning? Are any publications listed? Have they discussed their methods with major television personalities? Are they licensed and bonded?

Chances are, they don't know anything more than you do. With a minimum of research, you can make up your own unique message/technique/process. Add a white board, dry erase markers in ten colors, a tiara, and a few family expressions you'll present as universal truisms, and you'll be traveling for free in no time.

Decide where you want to initially offer your services. The lesser heeled rent a room at a local recreation center, set up a few folding chairs, and hope that the basketball game in the adjacent gym doesn't drown out the message. Or maybe it does. The point is that you are now a speaker. It says so right on your resume. A few more bookings, a few more talks situated next to the Senior Tappers, the Juggling Jousters, the surprisingly noisy calligraphers, and you have clout.

Now that you're ready for the big time, find a booking agency that caters to the minor players in the mindfulness world. Send them your resume. In your cover letter, refer to your experience in negotiation (calling the rec center), presentation (your tiara and white board), and audience engagement (you served brownies). Send them the outline of your topic areas, and offer them a Power Point. (If they actually take you up on that, ask for a week to polish the material. Then lose their number.)

Now here is the best part. Tell the booker that you are not picky, but that you believe your message would be most successfully received near major vacation destinations. Tell them a Friday lecture would be nice, preferably early in the day. This makes them think you're an early bird, and not just someone wanting an early start on a free weekend in Sedona, including mileage reimbursement, a per diem, and an upgraded suite. You are available to lecture on cruise ships, and you are open to international venues (Barcelona, yes; Tashkent, no). It's very important to add that your talk should be no longer than 90 minutes, and that your audience typically takes up to a week to understand the message.

Once you have the booking, it's time to press your advantage. Take that resort in Sedona. You may only get comped one night, but you can probably convince the night clerk that you were promised a drastically reduced rate for three more nights. You have a per diem for the first night, but that can be stretched over three days. The room comes with a complimentary fruit basket, and there is bottled water in the lobby. So that's room, board, and luxury for your infinitesimal troubles.

There are wonderful ways to use up the time during your presentation. A 'getting to know you' segment can be fun. An impromptu sing-along can be stretched for twenty minutes. Don't forget the five minutes of staring at a grape, and another fifteen minutes of letting your audience share the hidden wonders of the grape. Offer a free bottle of water (taken from the lobby that morning) to the person who can name the 2008 Tony Award winning musical revival. When the paying public grouses about your low-tech presentation style, tell them it's a throwback to a simpler time. They are paying to hear you, not read your words on a screen. Tell them that if it was good enough for (celebrity of your choice), then it should be good enough for them. Make them love you; your work is all about love. Then slowly leave the room, report to the spa, and soak up a little complimentary happiness, the kind that you so richly deserve.


Pamela Miller saves the world by day, writes by night, and wishes she could find a hotter place to live than Phoenix. The world is simply too cold.




Copyright © 2008 by Pamela Miller